Braving the scorching sun and EVM niggles, voters in Uttar Pradesh recorded a turnout of 61.40 per cent in the 10 constituencies where polling took place on Tuesday in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections, according to Election Commission's Voter Turnout app. This is a few percentage point short of the overall 61.48 registered over the same constituencies in 2014.
Prominent UP leaders in the fray in this phase are four members of Samajwadi Party patron Mulayam Singh Yadav's clan, besides senior party leader Azam Khan and actor-turned BJP candidate Jaya Prada.
The BJP also fielded Union Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar and Varun Gandhi as it fought to retain the seven seats it won in 2014 With the end of this phase, polling is now over in 26 of the 80 constituencies in the state that accounts for the largest number of MPs in Parliament.
According to the Election Commission, the voter turnout was 63.75 per cent in Moradabad, 60 per cent in Rampur, 63.26 per cent in Sambhal, 62.08 per cent in Firozabad, 57.78 percent in Mainpuri, 62.64 per cent in Etah, 58.98 per cent in Badaun, 58.73 per cent in Aonla, 60.60 per cent in Bareilly and 66.62 per cent in Pilibhit. UP's Chief Electoral Officer L Venkateshwar Lu told reporters that polling was peaceful in the state.
He said there were complaints of electronic voting machines (EVMs) malfunctioning at some booths but they were promptly dealt with. The SP lodged a complaint over the alleged malfunctioning of EVMs with the Election Commission, terming it criminal negligence. When questioned on SP president Akhilesh Yadav's claim that about 300 EVMs developed snags in Rampur alone, Venkateshwar Lu gave a set of figures contradicting it.
"In Rampur, eight ballot units, seven control units and 21 VVPATs were changed during the mock polling. During the actual polling hours, 18 ballot units, 19 control units and 52 VVPATs were changed,? he said, adding that this was 2.67 per cent of the machines. In Firozabad, the ratio of replaced machines was higher at about 5 per cent, according to the CEO.
Earlier, a report from Sambhal said some EVMs developed snags in Chandausi and Asmoli assembly segments of the Aonla Lok Sabha seat. In Pilibhit, polling at a sensitive booth in Kukrikheda started about an hour late due to faulty EVMs. At a booth in Etah zila panchayat, presiding officer Yogesh Kumar was removed after people accused him of forcing them to cast their votes in favour of the SP. "In all, three presiding officers were changed.
Younger brother of Mulayam Singh Yadav, Abhay Singh Yadav after casting his vote at a polling booth in Saifai, Mainpuri #LokSabhaElections2019— News Nation (@NewsNationTV) April 23, 2019
Follow LIVE updates:https://t.co/zuWppBHci6
READ: https://t.co/dfvdWu8BlX pic.twitter.com/KYE07Y9jkP
Two in Etah and one in Sambhal parliamentary constituency," Additional Chief Electoral Officer B D R Tiwari said. SP leader and former chairman of Bhargain Nagar Panchayat, Ahmed Nafis, was taken into custody in Kasganj in Etah after authorities anticipated breach of peace.
He was placed in police custody till 6 pm, when polling closed, officials said. SP MP Dharmendra Yadav, who is seeking re-election from Badaun, lodged a complaint against state minister Swami Prasad Maurya, claiming that he was campaigning in the constituency for his daughter and BJP candidate Sanghmitra Maurya.
But a raid at a house by district administration officials failed to locate him. Poll rules bar party leaders from camping in a constituency after the campaigning ends, unless they themselves are registered voters there. The Uttar Pradesh seats where polling took place Tuesday are spread over the Rohilkhand region.
SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav (Mainpuri) and nephews Dharmendra Yadav (Badaun) and Akshay Yadav (Firozabad) are seeking re-election. Pitted against Akshay Yadav, son of Mulayam Singh Yadav's cousin Ram Gopal Yadav, is Shivpal Yadav, another brother of the SP patriarch.
Shivpal Yadav floated a new political outfit, Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia), after falling out with Mulayam Singh Yadav's son and SP president Akhilesh Yadav. In 2014, Mulayam Singh Yadav won both the Mainpuri and Azamgarh seats, but vacated the first one, which was later bagged by another family member, Tej Pratap Singh, in a bye-election. Senior SP leader Azam Khan is contesting from Rampur, which witnessed a new low in campaigning this time with the controversial leader making a derogatory remark against BJP candidate Jaya Prada.
Other political heavyweights in Tuesday's test included Union Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar, who is fighting from Bareilly and BJP's Varun Gandhi from Pilibhit. Altogether 1.76 crore people were eligible to cast their vote in this phase at 20,116 polling booths. Some 120 candidates are in the fray for the 10 seats.
Across the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party faces an alliance of the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal. Meanwhile, the state election office said repolling at booth number 455 in Agra's Etmadpur assembly segment will now be held on April 25.
Polling was declared as 'zero' at the booth during the earlier, April 18, phase of voting after the presiding officer wrongly pressed the `close' button. The CEO said action will be taken against the official as per the norms.